Next up in the Get Local series is Rhythm Snowboards out of Massachusetts. After playing phone tag for a few days I was able to sit down and chat with Matt, one of the owners/founders of Rhythm Snowboards and get the scoop on who they are and what they’re doing.
First off so you’re Matt – and your brother is like the evil genius engineer right?
Yeah, I handle graphics, social media, marketing, sales, and coming up with the wild ideas for board designs. My brother is the engineering mind behind Rhythm who makes my dreams a reality, he has 10+ years in the engineering industry. We have a pretty close, tight-knit group of friends and riders who help us with the design, web design, testing and R&D.
When how & why did you start it up — what’s the “Rhythm story”
I’d been coach/instructing for a long time in VT, off-and-on during college. At the time we met a guy who used to build for Burton. My brother and I have always been in to snowboarding/talked about how awesome it would be to make our own boards and have our own company…this sparked our interest. Also, we got tired of breaking boards so we decided to start pressing our own. It took a lot of trial & error but next season will be our seventh year, we’re finally ahead of the production curve, building our 2013 models and refining prototypes right now for next season.
And how are things going for you guys – I see you in TW this year’s buyer’s guide so that’s good news for sure. What else is going on?
Last year we were featured in a small write-up but TW reached out to us this year which was like a dream come true… we’ve been reading TW our whole lives. Everything is going well, it’s easy to get caught up in who’s doing what but for us, right now it is just the two of us and we’ve got shops asking for boards and we’re working hard to keep up. We’ve got plans to move out in to a lot more retail stores next year and expand the website to really position Rhythm for a great future.
Investment is the next step, but starting out self-funded has given us a lot of freedom to do what we want, build boards the way riders want them, and we don’t have to answer to anyone else.
What’s Rhythm’s philosophy for building boards – and who are you building them for?
One of our first boards we were playing with different base colors, first year, and I broke mine, I just remember how pissed i was cause I couldn’t ride that day. We really want to make sure that each board is kick-ass and is going to handle anything you can put it through.
We’re building boards for the people who are truly passionate about snowboarding. Whether you’re the weekend warrior putting in 40 hours a week just to get to the weekend, or a gypsy couch surfing for the entire winter….we have a board for you. Earlier this winter we took a trip up to Saddelback in Maine. The people there are so passionate, those are the people who are going to buy our boards. We need to get in front of these people and if we can get out on the road, trips like this are awesome because they can demo out three or four boards and we can take laps with them, too!. It was a lot of fun and this year and we’re going to be doing the same sort of thing next winter, too
So all your boards are built buy you guys, in-house?
The market is saturated with a lot of “Made in USA” and handbuilt boards, but we really do everything in-house except we outsource our graphic work to local artists. We started building our own cores last year, trying different wood combinations. But yeah, there are a lot of “by riders, for riders” companies out there but we’re actually building them right here just me and my brother.
What are you doing with materials & sourcing that’s a little bit different from everyone else?
We stopped ordering materials from larger distributors and are getting as much as we can from local suppliers. We’ve been looking in to the idea of recycling old boards but right now it is cost-prohibitive.
We do use our excess biodegradable material and give it to my uncle who is a farmer and he composts it, we use green wax, checking out soy epoxy, etc., but knowing that we are not gonig to compromise on our product. Our direction is purely rider-driven product and trying to stay grassroots. Continuously trying to improve the product and staying as green as possible.
Is there really an old dude building boards at a sawmill?
Yes! Well sort of, he is our lumber distributor. Fall of 2010 we actually went up to Sherburne NY and met the guy, got to see him going to work on the lumber, he was really appreciative and loves to talk about all the different types of wood he has.
We’re at the point we’re starting to mix types of woods so his knowledge is really helpful. We’re still experimenting with but in addition to Poplar that we’re using now, we’re trying Basswood and some other woods, too.
What’s in store for the future of Rhythm – any new shapes or tech you can share without giving up your secrets?
Our product is at a point where we can really stand behind it. We are workgin on a catalog and with some good retailers and trying to rebrand next season with higher end boards. We are prototyping a directional, flat between the feet, reverse v-rocker outside the feet. I don’t have a word for it yet, but it’s going to be a setback reverse directional all-mountain freestyle deck. Really geared towards the big mountain rider/Pow surfer. I can’t tell you right now but there are some secret ingredients going in to the board to make it lighter and allow to you shred bottomless pow turns.
What’s your approach to Social Media? Do you use it?
Our image & marketing didn’t come along until the 3rd or 4th year basically we refused to put the boards on the market until they had thoroughly been ridden & tested so we’ve been relying a lot on word of mouth. I love these boards because I build them, but it’s awesome when basically a stranger tells you on Facebook that he loves your board. Or even if someone doesn’t like it we want to listen and see how we can use that feedback to try and improve our products.. So yes, social media plays a key role in getting the word out there.
Any snowboard brands, riders, companies or shops that you want to shout out for inspriation, support, etc?
First just shout out to anyone who has ever supported us in any way, from buying a board, to just talking to us….we really appreciate the love. Our crew who makes it happen – Blatt, Murphy, Juan Gusta, Erik, Andrew “Big Kat” Saunders, Chester Best, Jared at The Snowboard Shack, all the mountains who allow us to do demos, and anyone else who has been down since the start…big things to come. And thank you Dave for letting us be a part of this.
We look up to companies who are being creative and marching to the beat of their own drum.
Where can people buy your boards?
Aside from Snowboard Shack and our website, you can try to find us on the road. We are going to sell a lot of boards mobile next winter, doing a demo tour stop at a bunch of places so that people can ride before they buy.